i Stands for interactive, Fi for fidelity. These are the fruits of a joint venture between iFi Micro and Abbingdon Music Research (AMR). The iFi Micro products feature Reagan-esque ‘trickle-down’ from AMR’s higher-end technology.
The iFi iDAC (AU$349) seems interesting enough. There’s an ESS Sabre chipset (presumably 9023?) in a small-ish case with both line and headphone outputs. The USB input is asynchronous (check) and can decode anything up to 24/192 (check). (On paper at least) so far, so good.
Of more interest to existing DAC owners is the iUSBPower (AU$249): it sits between computer and DAC filters out (some of) the detritus from your computer’s USB 5V line. You get to feed your DAC with a much cleaner power supply. This (theoretically) should make for a more satisfying listen: more emphatic transients, deeper tonal colours, blacker background. I picture the iUSBPower being a neat add-on to the Audiophilleo or similar.
Inputs are a 9V DC low noise power supply and type B USB (that connects to your computer).
At the opposite end of the unit are two USB Type-A outputs: “Power only” and “Power + Audio”, either are for connecting the iUSBPower to your DAC. To use the former you’ll need a USB ‘splitter’ cable – coming in February 2013 from iFi Micro.
Also being released in the iFi range are the Class A iCan headphone amplifier (AU$299) and iPhono phono stage (AU$449). Surely ‘iPhono’ skirts dangerously close to ‘iPhone’? Besides, the ‘i’ prefix has been done to death by Apple; anyone else using it just makes me cringe a little. Regardless of my gut reaction to AMR’s naming conventions, they could be onto a winner with this iFi Micro range.